Last Christmas I walked into a local LEGO authorized store to get something different for my wife. We have popped in and out a couple of times and although we have been fascinated by some of the sets we never really got one so I wanted to try something different and I got the LEGO Bonsai Tree (10281).
Full disclosure I have never played with LEGOs all my life (probably a different building block variation) so I thought that it would just be a very predictable experience but what we got instead was something quite eye-opening. The LEGO Bonsai Tree is part of the Botanical Collection and is an 18+ Creator Expert set that provides a very interesting build experience aimed at adults. We found it to be very therapeutical and enlightening as each completed section gave us a sense of wonder. When we finally completed it that sense of accomplishment was something we didn’t expect to gain from this experience, and we wanted more. Being able to display a piece you built is also very satisfying.
We were granted early access to the two newest additions to the LEGO Botanical Collection, the LEGO Orchid and the LEGO Succulents so this time (and hopefully more to come) we wanted to document and share how quality, workmanship, and build experience affected us building these two sets to completion.
LEGO Orchid (10311)
Right out of the box the LEGO Orchid came with just 4 bags of the 608 individual pieces together with the build instruction booklet. The first two bags were focused on building the pot with the third focusing on the leaves and branches and the last bag was for the Orchids themselves.
What I thought was pretty cool about building the pot was how it felt like it might be a simple and straightforward process, but it turned out to be a slightly more intricate and not to mention colourful experience. Slowly building it from the ground up with a stable core with reinforced pieces making it one solid and sturdy frame was enjoyable. However, it truly felt satisfying rounding out the pot build with the outer shell coming on as the tactile feeling from the textured surface just added so much authenticity to the build. I know my wife loved building the Orchids more, but I really enjoyed building the pot more than I thought I would.
When it comes to building the framework of the stem, branches and leaves it was a more straightforward affair. The glossy texture of the leaves reflects beautifully in the light but they really are fingerprint magnets but look very realistic that our cat Midori kept trying to eat them.
The orchids themselves came together quite beautifully and even featured a homage to the LEGO Bonsai Tree set with pink frogs featured in the centre of the blossoms. This is one of the things that make building these sets very interesting as there are re-used elements from other sets that are repurposed in very unique ways such as the sepals of the Orchid used as shields in the 1995 LEGO Castle line. All these fun facts are included in the build instruction booklets that for us really added more value to the experience.
Finishing up the build with just the two of us took around 3 hours but it’s only because we always take turns building and admiring certain sections and pieces. I would estimate that this build can roughly be completed in around 1.5 – 2 hours with minimal difficulty. However, as much as we enjoyed this build there was one weird drawback. We noticed that the ends of the stems were somewhat loose-fitting and would prefer them to be sturdier as they can be removed too easily. Just bumping into them can slide them off because that’s how loose they were. Apart from that, it was quite an enjoyable build.
The set is gorgeous and is perfect as a centrepiece or a decoration around the house. This is a set that would be perfect as a gift for a housewarming or even for occasions such as Mother’s Day (LEGO marketing and timing on point here).
The LEGO Orchid set is now available on the official LEGO store or LEGO authorized resellers retailing for RM 219.90 as of May 1st.
LEGO Succulents (10309)
The LEGO Succulents contain 771 pieces in only 3 bags accompanied by the build instruction booklet. Each bag focuses on a line of LEGO Succulent with the first bag focusing on the Orange Echeveria, Aloe Plant, and Hens and Chicks succulent. The second bag focuses on an unnamed succulent we were unfamiliar with, Lavender Echeveria and Moon Cactus. The third and final bag focuses on the Ball Cactus, Burro’s Tail and Red Echeveria succulent.
Building each succulent was not much of a challenge but each of them provided a very revelatory and unique experience. There were some like the Orange Echeveria that was one of the easier ones to assemble with a less intricate assembly while still looking pretty but didn’t really provide much satisfaction building them.
The other succulents like the Hens and Chicks, Lavender Echeveria, Moon Cactus, Burro’s Tail and the Red Echeveria (my favourite) thankfully provided more variation and satisfaction in assembling them together due to intricate designs as well as a more varied build experience.
One of the most interesting things about building the LEGO Succulents set is how for us each piece didn’t really feel substantial to build but when it was all said and done there was some satisfaction in combining them all and seeing the finished product. It was a much different feeling compared to building the LEGO Orchid as with that set it was a slow build of satisfaction towards the end whereby this one was more akin to small bits of satisfaction culminating in the final combination. It didn’t take too long to build with similar timing with the LEGO Orchid at around 1.5-2 hours at most.
What we also liked was how the LEGO Succulents is a modular set with multiple combinations entirely up to the builder’s preference. You can display each succulent on its own or pair it with another or even all together. It may not have been a very exciting build but nonetheless, the LEGO Succulents set still is very beautiful to display much like the LEGO Orchid.
If there is to be a point of contention, I would have liked the succulents to have more of an identity when it comes to textures as the only one having a unique texture was the Aloe Plant with the rest adopting a glossier finish. It might be an insignificant qualm for others but it’s just a point of feedback for me.
The LEGO Succulents set is also now available on the official LEGO store or LEGO authorized resellers retailing for RM 219.90 as of May 1st.
For the most part, we did enjoy building both these sets and we do find them worthy additions to the LEGO Botanical Collection. Both sets offer different build experiences with a very smooth and relaxing journey. We also really enjoyed reading the fun facts littered across the pages of the LEGO building instructions booklets as they offer really nice insights on why some pieces are the way they are or what was the inspiration behind them. As previously mentioned, both sets are absolutely gorgeous display pieces and for those who are fans of the LEGO Botanical Collection both sets are a must buy.
One thing both my wife appreciated is how building sets like these afforded us the headspace to just talk and build stress-free. It is a very good activity to do together as it also promotes bonding, creativity and teamwork. As adults, we often rush from point A to B, not properly allowing ourselves time to slow down and appreciate life. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to build a beautiful piece literally laying brick upon brick and feel inspired in the process. For now, we are thankful that we were able to build these sets early and share with you our experience on it and hopefully if this is a space we are able to grow more into, stay tuned for more!